Biblical tradition is the privileged source for christian thinkers, who receive its ideas and images through various channels. Bernard had a personal way of assimilating and collating them into an original synthesis in a manner uniquely his own. And it is there that we find the only worthwhile explanation of his distinctiveness in his teaching on women as on every other subject. He was gifted with an absolutely exceptional ability to situate any detail in the general framework of the history of salvation, that is, of the revelation of the mystery of Christ. All that Bernard thought or experienced was for him only part of a reality of cosmic dimensions. He, like every theologian or any cultured person worthy of the name, achieved the ultimate moment when he experienced the mass of individual details and elements of information, as part of an organic whole, part of a plan coextensive with the totality of revelation. It was no longer a matter of detached morsels of truth, particles in juxtaposition yet retaining their individuality. Bernard had acquired a unifying insight into the total mystery of Christ. And it was from the standpoint of this fundamental attitude that he understood womankind and women, mankind and men, and everything else.

Jean Leclercq, Women and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1989)

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